7 rules for naming your business

Creating a company that sells for millions is a dream getting a lot of press lately with the IPOs of such companies as Zillow, Twitter and Groupon. It’s common today to see businesses sprout out of the minds of people with full-time jobs who craft their ideas at night and on weekends. So, how do you come up with the perfect name for your big idea?

The name of your company is an important decision in starting your business. It’s obvious when you hit on a great name. It’s memorable, it’s distinctive and it’s immediately obvious that the idea was inspired. It’s also obvious when someone has dropped the ball in naming their company.

Your business name is what people focus on when you talk about your company. You want it to make an impact and not be forgotten – for the right reasons! You want it to walk the line between obvious in meaning, but witty and enduring. You want it to reflect the business you’re in and the industry you’re serving.

A few things to consider when thinking up a name for your company:

Originality — Be inspired by other great names, but don’t copy them. Try to come up with something that has meaning to you, and to your business, but also speaks directly to your audience, while not repeating someone else’s idea. Always look at what your competitors have done and make sure your idea is better.

Easy to remember and spell — The trend in recent years is to make up new words when naming your company. Sure, it might be original, but is it easy to remember and say? Creating new words can be great — especially when reserving a website name (URL) or trademarking your name — but if your name is so unusual no one can remember how it’s pronounced or how it’s spelled, it’s a flop. Envision yourself meeting a potential client. Better yet, try out your new business name on a few friends. If they have to ask you to repeat it a few times, or if they’re having trouble remembering the name you just told them, or how to spell it, that’s a problem.

Imagery — Graphic Designers wish more entrepreneurs kept the importance of their name in mind. For instance, take these three company names: “Design Tent,” “Tea Garden” and “Firebird Bar and Grill.” On hearing those names, images automatically come to mind. This is human nature, and it helps immensely in the memorability of your brand. And as far as creating a logo, the options are far more interesting than trying to come up with a logo for a company called “KL Plumbing.” KL might be the initials of the owner but what does it say about their business?

Audience — In naming your company, make sure you consider your audience. Think about them — who are they? What is the age range, culture, gender, location and socio-economic level of your client? What would appeal to them? Are there any cultural references that would be appropriate to use? Or to avoid? Always remember your market and let that guide your decisions.

Longevity — Your company name should never be based on trends or include a date. Do you remember a company named 20th Century? Hmm. Not much foresight there.

Wit — This one depends on the kind of business you’re starting, but in general, if the name of your company makes your clients smile, they’ll remember it. Give some thought as to whether it’s appropriate to your industry and your personality, but wit can be a great asset to your brand.

Availability of trademark — Depending on the kind of company you’re developing, you may want to look into trademarking your logo and company name. Originality helps in the pursuit of a trademark.

Availability of the URL — When you’ve chosen a company name, be sure to check if the URL is available. There are multiple engines online for purchasing website names — we usually use GoDaddy to test availability. The shorter the URL, the better, as it’s easier to spell and remember. If the URL for the name of your company is already taken, keep thinking. Thesaurus.com can be a great tool for alternative ideas.

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photo by Katrina Snaps

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